Council unanimously approves its 20-year vision, The London Plan

London Plan logoIn a unanimous 13-0 decision, council approved the final draft of The London Plan — London’s playbook for city building over the next 20 years.

“After two years of public consultation, this plan identifies how London will grow over the next 20 years,” said Mayor Matt Brown. “We should all be proud of the extensive work the community, city council and city staff have put into creating The London Plan. With this plan, we’re building a better city, not just for us — but for future generations of Londoners.”

The London Plan — which becomes the city’s new Official Plan — sets out a series of policies designed to stimulate growth and development, protect the environment and natural resources, conserve local heritage, revitalize the downtown, protect agricultural lands, co-ordinate civic infrastructure, provide for affordable housing and connect the Forest City’s transportation system within land use plans.

The key directions proposed in The London Plan include:

  • Growing inward and upward
  • Shaping the city around rapid transit
  • Building a city of great places and spaces
  • Offering real and attractive mobility choices
  • Becoming one of the greenest cities in Canada
  • Creating a cosmopolitan city
  • Building strong and vibrant neighbourhoods
  • Planning a smart city
  • Regenerating urban neighbourhoods and main streets

“I would like to thank the thousands of Londoners who contributed to the creation of The London Plan,” said John Fleming, managing director of planning and city planner. “The plan was created after an extensive two-year conversation with Londoners about their hopes, dreams and aspirations for London’s future — to the year 2035.”

The London Plan has emerged from a two-year conversation with Londoners, called ReThink London, and sets new goals and priorities to shape the growth, preservation and evolution of the Forest City over the next two decades.

ReThink London, thought to be one of the largest engagement process relating to an Official Plan in Canada, saw over 20,000 Londoners participate in more than 100 information sessions and workshop events, respond to surveys and provide their opinions on a collective vision for the community’s future.

Fleming went on to say the plan reflects how Londoners would like the city to grow as well as ensure that London is able to meet “both the challenges and opportunities” the municipality will face given its projected growth of more than 80,000 people and 43,000 net new jobs by 2035.

Londoners can view and download the full plan at www.thelondonplan.ca as well as review previous versions, the public’s comments and background information on the process.

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London’s newest transit route to offer service to Fanshawe Lake

LTCFor those without access to a vehicle, visits to Fanshawe Lake can be problematic at best.

But thanks to a partnership between Tourism London, London Transit Service, Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) and the Fanshawe Pioneer Village, a soon-to-begin public transit route, The Fanshawe Gateway, is expected to dramatically change that situation.

The new route, announced June 21, will offer weekend and statutory holiday service to the Fanshawe Pioneer Village and the Fanshawe Conservation area from July 1 until Oct. 2.

“The introduction of this service will provide greater access for many Londoners to enjoy signature family, heritage, recreational and ecological attractions from Canada Day until Doors Open and Culture Days,” said Chris Campbell, director of culture and entertainment tourism at Tourism London. “We would like to thank the London Transit Commission for their full support to make this happen.”

Operational costs will be split between the transit commission and a partnership that will initially include Tourism London, pioneer village and UTRCA.

Partners plan to seek additional corporate and community partners to offset costs and assist in further marketing the service to Londoners.

Shanna Dunlop, pioneer village executive director and curator, said the organization is “thrilled” that through the generous support of the London Transit Commission (LTC) and Tourism London, there much-needed service to Fanshawe Pioneer Village for the 2016 season.

“Pursuing public accessibility initiatives to serve all audiences is a primary goal of Fanshawe Pioneer Village’s new Strategic Plan,” Dunlop said. “With this pilot program we have taken an important first step towards inclusion and ensuring that those who rely on public transit have a means to visit our village. Visitors can experience local history through our uniquely interactive hands –on learning.”

Dunlop said the organization is “especially excited” the service will include the annual Doors Open/Culture Days free public event, Oct. 1-2.

Sheryl Rooth, LTC board chair, said this “exciting partnership” which will utilize public transit to provide greater access to the community.

London-Fanshawe MP Irene Mathyssen, a self-described “long-time friend of Fanshawe Pioneer Village” and a supporter of better transit — not to mention the MP for the area — said she was happy to take part in the announcement.

“I am very happy the LTC has undertaken this pilot project to help make it easier for Londoners to visit this heritage, the natural treasure, that is our conservation area,” Mathyssen said. “I hope its success will pave the way for future special seasonal transit services, that will enable more Londoners to take advantage of the many fun things to do in our community.”

More information on the “Fanshawe Getaway” bus schedule can be found at www.ltconline.ca.

Londoners donate 43,430 lbs. during London Cares Curb Hunger Food Drive

Food bankThe London Food Bank now has 43,430 lbs. of additional food on its shelves thanks to the generosity of Londoners who participated in the 20th Annual London Cares Curb Hunger Food Drive.

“The Food Bank wishes to acknowledge the tremendous generosity of Londoners during this food drive,” Jane Roy, co-executive Director of the London Food Bank. “Currently about 3,500 families are using the Food Bank on a monthly basis and the new amount of food donations will go a long way to supporting families during the summer months ahead.”

The London Cares Curb Hunger Food Drive is timed to help stock the shelves of the Food Bank as it heads into the summer months, which is traditionally a slower period for food donations.

After 20 years, the running total for one of Canada’s most unique food drives has now passed the 1,281,000 million lbs. mark.

“We encouraged Londoners to give what they could during this food drive and we are very grateful for every donation — large or small — that came in,” said Jay Stanford, director of environment, fleet and solid waste. “Every pound of food donation matters.”

In a joint statement, The London Food Bank and City of London extended a thank you to the many corporate and media partners that supported the drive.

However, it was the wider community that drew praise from Deputy Mayor Paul Hubert.

“For 20 years Londoners have generously supported the food drive, demonstrating care for their neighbours,” Hubert said. “This year was no different as Londoners were once again generous to help those in need in our community.”

More donations needed to support Curb Hunger Food Drive

HungerDonations are down for the 20th annual London Cares Curb Hunger Food Drive and the London Food Bank needs the help of Londoners.

So far there has been about 30,000 pounds of food collected, down about 50 percent compared with this time last year and only half way to last year’s amount of about 60,000 pounds.

There are still two and half days remaining in the food drive.

“Amidst the desire to reduce poverty all across the city, thousands of Londoners continue having trouble putting food on the table. The success of the Curb Hunger Food Drive is pivotal in addressing the immediate need, said Jane Roy, co-executive director of the London Food Bank. “It’s our hope that all Londoners will take advantage of the drive to reach out to those struggling to make ends meet.”

Until Saturday, June 18, Londoners can buy extra non-perishable food donations and leave them at their neighbourhood grocery store, bring items to any fire station, or they can place their donations in a bag tied with a ribbon and set-out beside their Blue Box in the morning of their recycling day.

“Stocking the shelves at the Food Bank heading into the summer months has always been a key reason for holding this food drive in June as donations tend to drop off in the summer months – but the need does not change,” said Jay Stanford, the city’s director of environment, fleet and solid waste. “Londoners have always been generous with food donations and we hope they can give what they can in the next few days to help out.”

The following is the remaining curbside schedule for this year’s Food Drive:

• Friday, June 17 – Zone D

• Saturday, June 18 – Accepting donations at grocery stores and fire stations

Food policy council launched to create sustainable food system

FoodMiddlesex-London is ready to fuel citizens forward as a collective of local groups took the first step toward creating a more sustainable food system.

During an announcement at the Covent Garden Market on June 16, the collaborative team of London Community Foundation (LCF), the Middlesex-London Health Unit, the City of London and Middlesex County, unveiled the Middlesex-London Community Food Assessment and announced the creation of a food policy council.

The Middlesex-London Food Policy Council was announced with a call for applications asking Londoners who are passionate about food to submit an application to join the council.

“Early on, London Community Foundation identified the community’s challenge with increasing rates of food insecurity,” says Martha Powell, LCF president and CEO. “Even though many groups are working to address the issue, there is a lack of a collaborative and systemic approach. By convening the right people, we have the opportunity to tackle food security and change the way our community thinks about food.”

The assessment is the result of the contributions of hundreds of Middlesex-London community members.

From food production to food consumption, risk management to waste management, innovation and technology to policy and advocacy, this assessment identifies specific strengths and assets in the region, important areas to cultivate, and strategic opportunities for food systems change.

The assessment will serve as the map with which the future Middlesex-London Food Policy Council will chart a path towards a more local and sustainable food system.

Recognizing the need for the Middlesex-London community to come together to improve the region’s local food system, the council will coordinate community efforts to create systems change and advocate for local food issues.

“Londoners are way out ahead of us in recognizing that we need a strong local food system — especially the entrepreneurs who are taking meaningful risks to do things differently,” said Ward 4 Coun. Jesse Helmer, chair of the Middlesex-London Board of Health. “I hope that the Middlesex London Food Policy Council will be a means for Londoners to make change at the systems level to build the sustainable local food system we need.”

The vision of the Middlesex London Food Policy Council is a community that sustains a healthy, safe, equitable and ecologically responsible food system, which nourishes all local residents and is economically viable.

The goal is to facilitate and support a safe, healthy and accessible local food system that is socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable.

“The county is very much looking forward to working with our urban food partners on a Middlesex-London Food Policy Council,” said Marcel Meyer, from Middlesex County Council. “We want to improve the link between the farmer and the consumer. This initiative provides the chance to contribute and change our local food system to something healthier, more sustainable, better coordinated, and more local.”

To submit an application for the Middlesex, London Food Policy Council, visit www.healthunit.com/middlesex-london-food-policy-council.

To view the Community Food Assessment, visit www.healthunit.com/community-food-assessment.

Ownership change leading to Über Cool downtown celebration

both keyAfter five years in Downtown London, Über Cool Stuff is celebrating a change in ownership this Saturday with a system reboot party.

New owner, Kayla Gibbens, has been a fan of London’s “Geek Boutique” since it opened in 2011, and jumped at the chance to move from working in the shop to running it.

“I love everything about this store,” Gibbens said. “It’s fantastic to get the opportunity to take over and add a little something to the mix.”

Über Cool, which offers the best of boardgames and other geeky gifts, is located at 122 Dundas St.

Original owner Chris McInnis credits the local community for his success.

“Our customers love to find something weird, or funny, or cool,” he said. “They make a point of coming here first when they need a gift and they go out of their way to tell their friends about us.”

The change in ownership will be marked on Saturday, June 11, with not only a celebration for Gibbens, but also a tribute to the shop’s first five years.

“This store has always been evolving, and I am really pumped to see it continue to grow and change,” said McInnis.

Kathy McLaughlin, Downtown London’s manager Mainstreet Programs, praised McInnis for having made his mark in the city’s core.

“Über Cool Stuff has become a new mainstay in the downtown retail scene, and Chris has worked hard to offer not only a curated selection of products but also unique experiences that have helped to establish the shop as a destination boutique,” McLaughlin said. “We wish Chris well in his future endeavours. We are delighted to welcome Kayla to our downtown family and look forward to working with her.”

London Cares Curb Hunger Food Drive reaches 20-year milestone

FoodLondoners have been incredibly generous over the last 19 years, donating 1,237,584 pounds of non-perishable donations to Canada’s longest running and most unique food drive.

The London Cares Curb Hunger Food Drive will begin Friday, June 10, its 20th year of collecting food donations for the London Food Bank.

“The need for food donations continues to grow each year. The 300 families a month we helped in 1986 — nearly 30 years ago — has grown tenfold to an average of 3,467 families per month in 2016,” said Jane Roy, co-executive director of the London Food Bank. “Every pound of food is more important than ever.”

Londoners have three options for participating in the London Cares Curb Hunger Food Drive.

June 10-18, Londoners can buy a few extra non-perishable food donations and leave them at their neighbourhood grocery store, bring items to their local fire station, or they can place them in a bag tied with a ribbon and set them out beside their Blue Box in the morning of their recycling day.

The city’s recycling contractor Miller Waste and volunteer crews will collect the donations from the curb.

About 61,000 pounds of food donations were delivered to the London Food Bank in 2015 from curbside collection, corporate donations and grocery stores donation bins.

All food collected by the food drive is donated to the London Food Bank. This is a necessary service for those who need a helping hand to get through difficult periods of their lives.

Grocery stores and fire stations will accept donations at any time during business hours June 10-18.

Curbside Collection will take place on the following days:

  • Friday, June 10 — Zone E
  • Monday, June 11 — Zone F
  • Tuesday, June 14 — Zone A
  • Wednesday, June 15 — Zone B
  • Thursday, June 16 — Zone C
  • Friday, June 17 — Zone D

On Saturday, June 18, donations will still be accepted at fire stations and local grocery stores.